Washington police chief brings new life to discarded items

December 24, 2017

This photo taken Nov. 6, 2017, shows Sedro-Woolley Police Chief Lin Tucker holding a tree sculpture he made from an old handsaw at his Clear Lake, Wash., shop. (Scott Terrell /Skagit Valley Herald via AP)

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. (AP) — Lin Tucker takes a red-hot brand out of the forge in his shop above Clear Lake and pushes it against a length of board taken from an old barn.

The wood hisses, flames and steams.

“There’s always something on fire,” he says about the work he does in his shop, yelling to be heard above the noise that comes from the branding and the propane-powered forge.

Left behind on the board is a blackened letter “S.”

“It’s cool to just come out here and burn something or weld something,” Tucker said. “There’s always an angle to make something.”

Tucker, who spends his days working as Sedro-Woolley’s police chief, is part artist, part mad scientist.

Inside his shop are bins, buckets, boxes and drawers full of ball bearings, gears, chains, cables, nuts, bolts, tools, drill bits and various lengths of aging boards.

“I never know what I’m going to need or use,” Tucker said. “I have a lot of stuff I am not sure what I am going to do with. I’ve got some old scissors that won’t cut, pretty much useless, but they are great for spider legs.”

Lurking in the woods outside the shop is a metal monstrosity that stands about 10 feet tall.

It guards Tucker’s fire pit, boasting a bladed spear and shield with a pair of scorpions on either side of a skull. It also has skeletal hands of rebar.

“It’s just something I wanted to do,” Tucker said. “Something a little different. Finding a place for it, that was the difficult part.”

For his latest creation, Tucker is using a plasma cutter to transform ordinary blades from handsaws into intricate evergreen trees.

He has donated some of these as auction items for charitable causes and some he has sold as a way to fund future projects.

The trees made of saw blades are a hit during the Christmas season.

A bucket of saw blades sits by the door, and more hang from the ceiling.

Some are old, some are new. Some are long, others are short. Some have artsy handles, others are more utilitarian. All are destined to become pieces of art.

“Garage sales, and I don’t mean nice garage sales,” Tucker said of where he finds materials. “You can find a lot of old stuff. I’m always collecting stuff. At my dad’s place in Missouri, we turned old washing machines into snowmen.”

And the more distressed or rustic the better. You just can’t duplicate the patina made by Father Time.

“It just adds so much character,” Tucker said. “I want stuff to have that antique look.”

In creating the saw blade trees, he starts by picking out a saw. Skinnier blades make one tree, while wider ones make two.

Once Tucker has picked a saw, he judges the handle. If it doesn’t have the look he desires, a quick scorch in the forge provides the necessary patina.

“That just ages it,” Tucker said as he puts a saw’s handle into the forge. “Gives it that old, worn look. It’s also faster than just leaving it outside.”

He draws out a pattern on the saw blade using chalk, then gets down to business.

Donning protective glasses and vintage gloves, Tucker fires up his plasma cutter. With a loud pop and a whoosh it comes to life.

Tucker puts plasma cutter to metal, starting out with the side closest to him. It cuts like a hot knife through butter.

“Saws are just ideal for this,” he said. “They are so thin, they cut really easy.”

Sparks fly as Tucker cuts along the chalk lines. Hot gobs of melted metal fall to the floor, followed by shards of the hot steel.

The entire process takes only minutes.

“I’ve been doing this for about a year, ever since my wife saw it on Pinterest,” Tucker said of making trees. “She sees something she likes and I get to make it.”

Tucker said after making a few trees he may move on to something else, such as metal dragonflies or a wood project.

Or, he said, he may just enjoy a drink and a cigar.

“Some people pay to go to therapy. This is my therapy,” Tucker said of his projects. “I like doing things like this. The problem is, I can’t stop.”


Information from: Skagit Valley Herald, http://www.skagitvalleyherald.com

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